Plans for long-term underperforming schools to join academy trusts Further new interventions to encourage and support schools to join a strong multi-academy trust include an expanded £24 million fund due to launch in May to develop more, and grow existing strong multi-academy trusts, providing more capacity for trusts to take on and support schools converting into academies Updated guidance for trusts and prospective academy converters has been published, which sets out how strong trusts improve educational outcomes, how local authority schools can convert and the support they can expect to receive A pilot programme has also been launched, in partnership with the Church of England and Catholic Church, to set up new faith academy trusts, as well as a new turnaround trust to support Catholic schools in need of intensive support.
The Education Secretary has stated his ambition to bring schools with a history of long-term underperformance, which have had three consecutive Requires Improvement or worse judgements, into multi-academy trusts. In his speech to the Confederation of School Trusts annual conference, Gavin Williamson said the government’s vision is for the school system to continue to move towards a single model built on strong multi-academy trusts as its foundation, rather than the current “pick-and-mix system” of local authority maintained and standalone academy schools. The DfE says the pandemic has brought to the fore the benefits of strong multi-
academy trusts in providing outstanding support for both children and staff, through their collaborative approach and being able to pool resources and knowledge. Williamson committed to fully consult with the sector on his ambition to bring schools with a history of long-term underperformance into strong multi-academy trusts. All schools will now have the option to ‘try the academy experience before they buy’ – associating with multi-academy trusts for a defined period to experience the benefits for themselves and their students, with no commitment.
Thousands of reception pupils to take part in early language programme
Autumn exams to be offered for all subjects, says Ofqual
Two-fifths of primary schools in England have signed up to take part in Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) - a programme to support four- and five-year-olds whose early language and literacy development has been most affected by the pandemic. 62,000 reception-age pupils in 6,672 schools will take part in the programme, which is regarded as the most wellevidenced early years language programme available to schools in England. The programme was offered to state-funded schools with Reception pupils at no cost by the Department for Education (DfE) in response to disruption to schooling caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is managing the scale-up, which has been funded under the DfE’s wider COVID-recovery efforts. The DfE has announced additional funding to expand the rollout to more schools for the 2021/22 school year, to be delivered by the Nuffield Foundation. Developed by the Universities of Oxford, Sheffield and York, NELI involves scripted individual and small-group language teaching sessions delivered by a trained teaching assistant or early years educator to children identified as being in need of targeted language support. So far, close to 20,000 teaching assistants and teachers have received online training designed by the University of Oxford and provided via FutureLearn.com, the leading social learning platform, to deliver the NELI programme to pupils.
Students who receive a teacher assessed grade this summer will be eligible to take GCSE, AS or A level exams in the same subject in autumn 2021, Ofqual has confirmed. This also applies to those students who exam boards believe would have sat exams in summer 2021 had they not been cancelled. These decisions follow a consultation which closed on 9 April. Ofqual has also decided that exam boards will have to offer exams in all GCSE and A level subjects and AS exams in biology, chemistry, further maths, maths and physics; exam boards will be able to offer AS exams in other subjects if they wish. Exams will be in their normal format, with no adaptations made.
Professor Becky Francis, CEO of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “The impressive reach that the Nuffield Early Language Intervention has achieved in its first year of delivery shows how teaching professionals are embracing evidence-informed approaches to maximise their pupils’ progress.
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Grades will be determined by a student’s performance in an exam for all subjects, except for art and design qualifications AS and A level exams will be held in October, while GCSE exams will take place in November and December Separately, Ofqual also published its decisions document on Consultation on autumn assessment opportunities for Vocational and Technical and Other General Qualifications. Ofqual has confirmed the details of the framework, which will require awarding organisations that normally provide assessment opportunities between September and January, to make those assessments available to learners who were eligible to receive a result through a teacher assessed grade if they wish to improve on it. Where awarding organisations do not normally provide assessment opportunities between September and January, Ofqual will require them to provide those opportunities where they reasonably consider there is sufficient demand and would be manageable to both the awarding organisation and centres. CLICK TO READ MORE
“Whilst reported concerns around school starters’ language and communication development are of course worrying, it is reassuring to know that the NELI programme is available to meet pupils’ needs. CLICK TO READ MORE
Issue 26.3 | EDUCATION BUSINESS MAGAZINE
Business Information for Education Decision Makers